Photo and article by Donna Iverson
As October rolls around and the Halloween decorations appear, it seems like human skeletons on front lawns are getting larger and larger.
This year, skeletons have reached 12 feet tall, looming over many a front yard filled with spiders, tombstones, and witches. And they don’t come cheap …a 12-foot Halloween skeleton can run up to $300 at big box stores.
So what’s going on? A house-sized skeleton certainly gets attention. And is definitely scary, reflecting our times. These oversized skeletons are a huge menacing presence that says something is coming for you.
Our growing fascination with skeletons harkens back to an earlier era. In late Middle Ages, intellectuals were beginning to study anatomy in a more scientific way. Dissection was reveling the body’s structure. Like today, a fascination with skeletons grew.
In the US, it is legal to possess, display and sell human bones with a few exceptions. Eight states forbid the selling of bones. These states include Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Hampshire, South Caroline, Texas and Virginia. Native America skeletons and bones are also protected under the Native American Graves Protection Act.
The oldest skeleton discovered by archaeologists is Lucy, uncovered in Ethiopia in 1974. She dates back 3.2 million years. Today, scientists are able to extract DNA for ancient skeletons telling us more and more about our ancient history.
Meanwhile in our front yards, skeletons rule. At least they do through the month of October.